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  • Noel McMillin

    Member
    November 7, 2022 at 4:43 pm

    Where do I start? At the beginning of the school year, I guess. Good or bad (a discussion for another time perhaps) we decided to pull the bottom 12-14 math students and put them in their own class of which I am the teacher. These are non-IEP (no special ed) students. The gaps are large and for most, the social-emotional nature of the student’s nature teeters between drowning and head just above the water on any given day. It did not take me long to figure out that these students needed something different and better. The longer I talk at them in front of the class, the less they listen. Just last week the only student paying attention to me was the one student that barely speaks English – no joke.

    The Dorito Roulette challenge was the second “Notice/ Wonder” problem for this particular group of 7th graders. I chose this one because food is nearly always a way great way to spark curiosity. We watched the commercial two times and then made a list of what they noticed and wondered. Of course, the same student who why we were watching the video did the same thing today. It is ok. I wrote it down but mentioned to the class this may be the last time we record it on the board. In fact, I think I will beat him to the punch and record it right away before he even gets a chance.

    We ended up with a long list but the students just didn’t ask the questions I needed in order to get to the questions we needed to answer, how many chips in the bag and how many chips are spicey. I know they were ok with it in the end, but I initially thought it might take away from the work beccuase the teacher (me) was again leading and the students were following.

    I asked each group to come up with a guess for the total number of chips and the total number of spicy chips. I was elated to hear one of the students say “ratio”. I took it and ran. Some were using some version of a ratio table while others just went to the calculator. I did not show the final video until every group had a guess AND I had a chance to quiz them on their guess. As I am checking in with the groups, one young lady could not contain herself. She could not wait to watch the video to find out how close her estimate was to the actual data. At one point, I started walking back to my computer and then got sidetracked by another question. I thought she was going to lose it!

    I would call today a win. There was an energy in the classroom that just doesn’t happen too often. The students want to do more of this kind of problem and I will oblige. I think these problems are just great anchor problems, a problem you can reference time and time again as we progress through the year because they fuel sense-making.